Friday, September 25, 2009

New FeedDemon 3 for Windows -- TERRIBLE !

For a long time, I have been using Firefox Live Bookmarks to keep track of my RSS feeds, but I noticed that I never seemed to go and read anything. It was always too inconvenient to click through each of the folders and subfolders, looking for a feed that had changed, read the new items, and then repeat for the next feed.

I had heard good things about NetNewsWire for the iPhone and Mac (where i would also like to read my RSS feeds) and its ability to keep all three (PC, Mac, iPhone) in sync. But, they were in transition from their old way (their own sync) to using GoogleReader as their sync platform. So I waited patiently for them to complete their betas and release the new stuff.

In the meantime, I moved all of my feeds from Firefox Live Bookmarks to Google Reader (exported the OPML file). I didn't use GoogleReader to read any of them though - I didn't want to get used to it if i was planning to use NNW/FeedDemon instead.

So, today, I just installed the new FeedDemon 3 for Windows. What a piece of junk. I heard people who complained about the ads, but that is a very small space in the lower left corner (where nothing else is) and is easy enough to ignore. What I couldn't live with is the navigation through the posts.

What I want to do is read the unread posts in oldest-to-newest order and have some way to easily mark them as read. Should be easy enough, right ? What a piece of junk.

Fortunately, they have a "watch" in the left pane for only unread items. I had thousands, so I told it to mark them all as read and came back in a few hours -- 35 items. Good. I brought up the unread items and spent some time selecting a view that looked like what I wanted -- "Surfer" (as in web surfer). I told it to show the entire post, to sort by date, and found the option to reverse the sort. So, I had the posts in the right order. So far, I was happy. Not with the amount of time it took to do this, but I was new to RSS readers and could excuse that as my "newbie"-ness. But what happened next ? What a piece of junk.

There isn't a good visible break between posts that I could use when scanning forward to the "next" post, so I started looking for something that would let me just click to the next post. Ahh, there it is at the bottom of the screen "Next Unread". I clicked it and did it take me to the next unread post ? NO. It took me to the next PAGE of unread posts (the 35 items were spread across 2 "pages" -- at the bottom, it also said "Page 1 of 2" next to forward and backward navigation buttons). I don't quite understand why they are spread across "pages" since each "page" is multiple (10?) screens long, but there it was.

Anyway, when I clicked "Next Unread", it didn't mean next unread post, it meant next unread PAGE. And when it went there, it marked everything on the previous page READ. What a piece of junk, but not the end of the world, so I went back and manually scrolled down the page and got through those posts and returned to "Page 2". For some reason I hit "Next Unread" again on this page and the results were incomprehensible. Since there was no next page, it took me to the home page and marked everything on that page READ (like before). BUT, this time, I could not back up to the previous page. Further, there is no way to create a "watch" that says "show me everything that was new in the last hour" so I could recover. No dice.

I went immediately to GoogleReader and discovered that FeedDemon had not sync-ed with it yet and the last page of posts were still marked as "unread" in GoogleReader. So I decided to see if GoogleReader would meet my needs.

I was able to set it up the same way as I had it under FeedDemon and started reading the posts. Two things that I noticed:

1. Posts were automatically marked as read as I scrolled past them. For me, that is a good thing. Under FeedDemon, you would have to either wait for it to mark the whole page as read when you finished the page, or click the envelope icon that was under the post's headline. That seems to be a good idea, but if the post is a long one, you don't want to have to scroll all the way back up to click the stupid icon. With GoogleReader, it marks it automatically, but if you don't like that, there is an box in the BOTTOM line (after the post) to keep it unread - at the BOTTOM where it belongs (top and bottom would be even better). And if you don't like the automatic marking, there is a menu option to stop it from doing that.

2. There is a "previous item" and "next item" button that takes you to the previous or next POST, just like you would expect.

3. If you are going to change to change the sort order (from newest first to oldest first), one word of advice. At the beginning of the line you will see "x new items - all items" where "all items" is highlighted. Click "x new items" first, then change the sort order. Otherwise, it will try to sort EVERYTHING when all you want to see are the new (unread) items.

Overall, FeedDemon is not even worth the price (free). Just stick with GoogleReader.

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